The 10 Best Hot Chocolate Spots in San Francisco
By Stephanie Garr.
Here at Gourmet Walks, we’re happy—and always willing—to take our daily dose of cacao in any form, but when the temperature drops, a warming cup of hot chocolate is just the elixir we crave. Fortunately, we don’t need to go far to get our fix in San Francisco, where chocolate flows nearly as much as water here. This list features 10 of the city’s finest spots for a hot chocolate, and it’s a great guide to follow as you start training for next year’s Hot Chocolate 15k/5k run in Golden Gate Park!
1. Dandelion Chocolate: 740 Valencia Street, Ferry Building Marketplace
The small-batch chocolate maker makes some of San Francisco’s finest bean-to-bar chocolate, which they’ve translated into a variety of silky cocoa concoctions. Try their house hot chocolate, an elegant spin on the traditional Swiss Miss style, which comes with a mini cookie and optional housemade marshmallow. If you’re feeling a bit spicy, go for the Mission Hot Chocolate, or if San Francisco is having one of those rare 80-degree days, cool down with the refreshing Frozen Hot Chocolate. Sample Dandelion’s chocolate on one of our Chocolate Tours!
2. Boulettes Larder: Ferry Building Marketplace
Sipping the thick liquid chocolate at this Ferry Building locale is as decadent as slipping into a heavenly mud bath. Their Eastern European Hot Chocolate simmers innocently in a copper double boiler waiting for your lustful glance. Its texture is so rich and creamy it could pass for a melted brownie. The whipped cream on top offers just the right cooling balance, and it also serves as an acceptable palette cleanser for the beignets you most definitely need to pair this with.
3. Craftsman and Wolves: 746 Valencia Street, 1643 Pacific Avenue, 1598 Yosemite Avenue
This innovative patisserie offers such a feast for the eyes, it’s easy to overlook their simple sipping chocolate (simple compared to, say, their famous savory pastry “The Rebel Within”). Elegantly placed on a wooden block, the rich cup of Valrhona chocolate comes with a housemade marshmallow that changes with the seasons. Get a taste of Craftsman and Wolves on our Russian Hill Food Tour!
4. New Tree: 1 Ecker Place, 311 California Street #120
This all-natural, eco- and health-conscious spot helps reaffirm our belief that chocolate is a necessary part of a healthy, wholesome diet. New Tree’s signature drink is a hot chocolate everyone can enjoy—yes, even you vegans. A blend of their smooth Belgian chocolate with almond milk makes this decadent drink extra creamy, while dashes of pumpkin-pie-like spices will warm your soul. Sample a cup on our Gourmet Chocolate Tour!
5. Jade Chocolates: 4207 Geary Boulevard
This small Richmond District boutique is lined with an incredible display of exotic chocolate truffles. Believe us, you’ll have a hard time narrowing down your selections, but just wait until you get to their hot chocolate menu. Get a made-to-order cup in one of a variety of unique flavors, including passion fruit, turmeric and black pepper, Thai red curry, China Red (a blend of cinnamon, New Mexico chili, and red peppers), and Creamsicle (made with white chocolate).
6. La Oaxaquena: 2128 Mission Street
A stop at this Mission gem will forever have you craving your hot chocolate Mexican-style. Their thick libation is made from pulverized blocks of Oaxacan cacao, which is mixed with almonds and cinnamon and then dissolved in steamed milk and frothed. Be sure to add some guajillo chili powder for a little extra kick.
7. Christopher Elbow Chocolates: 401 Hayes Street
This artisan chocolatier’s bonbons may just be too beautiful to eat, but the liquid chocolate here is as inviting as ever. The sizable hot chocolate menu can be a bit daunting—choose from flavors like hazelnut, ginger caramel, and Venezuelan spice—but just think of it as a good reason to make a return trip back. Expect a rich cup that’s not too sweet (you’ll definitely approve if you’re a dark chocolate fan), topped with a housemade vanilla bean marshmallow and hand-whipped cream.
8. Recchiuti Confections: Ferry Building Marketplace, 801 22nd Street,
Your knees will inevitably melt when biting into any one of Michael Recchiuti’s decadent chocolates, which means you’ll definitely need to take a seat to take in his dark hot chocolate. Made from pistoles (little disks of chocolate) instead of powder, the rich concoction is silky and only slightly sinful. Sample some of Recchiuti’s chocolates on our Gourmet Chocolate Tour!
9. XOX Truffles: 754 Columbus Avenue
This long-standing North Beach shop may have truffles in their name, but many locals know to come here for the thick, oozy hot chocolate. XOX’s drink is made with melted chocolate poured straight into a cup and mixed with frothed milk, then hand-whisked to make it all feel lighter than the cloud you’ll be floating on. Bonus: get a free truffle with your hot chocolate!
10. Tosca Café: 242 Columbus Avenue
Further down Columbus Avenue, you’ll find this reopened Italian institution that serves one killer adults-only hot chocolate. The “House Cappuccino” is made with a custom-made ganache from Dandelion Chocolate, heavy cream, and a shot of Buffalo Trace Bourbon and Marie Duffeau Armagnac. After guzzling it down, you’ll never be the same.